Is Easter a pagan holiday?Easter as the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ is not a pagan holiday. Because of the cultural integration of Easter with other spring rituals and traditions, some have mistaken it for ancient pagan practices. Easter was always meant to be a marker on the Christian calendar of the day that Jesus defeated the power of death by coming back to life (Acts 2:24). It is through belief in Him and His resurrection that we, too, can have eternal life (Ephesians 1:11–14; 2:1–10).
One of the main reasons people ask about the origins of Easter is the name itself. The word Easter has similarities to an ancient Saxon goddess by the name Eostre. However, besides the similarity in spelling, there is no historical connection between the two.
There are also many springtime pagan celebrations that have been or are marked by cultures around the world. The spring equinox has been connected to many events such as the Day of Bau (Babylonian), Dark Mother Day (Indian), the Day of Fortuna (Roman), the Feast of Blajini (Romanian), the Feast of Artemis/Diana (Greek/Roman), the Feast of Tellus Mater (Roman), the Festival of Ba'ast (Egyptian), the Festival of Ishtar (Babylonian), the Feast of Elaphebolia (Athenian), and Odin's Day (Norse). One of the more famous still occurs at Stonehenge, where Druids and other pagans gather on the spring equinox to watch the sunrise.
Again, these celebrations around a commonly venerated time of year do not connect or correlate with Jesus' resurrection in any way. If anything, Jesus' defeat of death places the Easter celebration supreme among all springtime celebrations. No other religion, cult, or spiritual practice has shown any command over death like Jesus has (Romans 6:9).
After Jesus had the Passover supper, a Jewish feast instituted by God to commemorate His deliverance of His people from Egypt (Exodus 12; Leviticus 23:4–8), He walked with them through the Kidron Valley and into the garden of Gethsemane, where He wept and prayed for God to deliver Him from the cruel death He was about to experience (Matthew 26:17–46). Judas, one of His disciples, betrayed Him to the Jewish authorities, who involved the Roman government in arresting Him (Matthew 26:47—27:31).
Jesus was unfairly tried and then killed on a cross, considered a brutal, shameful way to die (Matthew 27:32–56). Joseph of Arimathea donated a new grave tomb for Jesus to be buried in. He was customarily wrapped from head to foot in burial cloths and placed in the tomb, with a gigantic rock rolled into place at the mouth of the tomb (Matthew 27:57–66).
On the third day after His burial, some of the women disciples went early to the tomb to finish the traditional Jewish burial preparations. When they arrived, the tomb's stone was rolled back and no body was there. Soon more disciples came and saw it was empty, too (Matthew 28:1–10; Mark 16:1–8; Luke 24:1–12; John 20:1–10). Jesus visited them in His resurrected form (John 20:11–29; Acts 1:3; 1 Corinthians 15:3–8). During His time with them, He explained what it all meant (Luke 24:13–48;).
Believing that Jesus was born of a virgin, lived a perfect sinless life, died on the cross for our sins, and resurrected results in our forgiveness and redemption, resulting in eternal life (Ephesians 1:3–14). This salvation is for all who believe, not just those of Jewish descent (John 1:12; 3:16–18; Galatians 3:25–29).
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